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Bildad, we saw yesterday, had a profoundly simplistic faith. In his theology, God is just and his actions always consistent with justice. If he blesses, it is because we have done right. If he withdraws blessing, or if he sends affliction, it is because we have done something wrong.

It appears that Job once shared this simplistic religion but, in the book that bears his name, he discovered that God’s governance of human affairs is not always as simple as that. In response to his friends, he wrestled with the apparent contradiction between God’s character and actions. As he wrestled, he came to understand, in the words of Christopher Ash, that “some of God’s actions express his character, while others are the outworking of his longer plan to deal with evil.”

As in his reply to Eliphaz, Job, in his response to Bildad, first addressed his friend (chapter 9) before he addressed God (chapter 10).

Responding to his friend, Job first stated his ultimate desire: to be right with God (9:1–4). More than health, wealth, or family, he longed for a right standing before God. He longed to be declared righteous in the divine courtroom. But as he considered God’s actions in his life, he struggled to see how that was possible.

As much as he wanted to affirm Bildad’s simplistic systematic theology, his experience with God simply wouldn’t allow it. In fact, for the first time in the book, he actually suggests that God may not be so just, after all. The same God who spoke order into creation also caused disorder in creation (9:5–10). Rather than revealing himself to his faithful people, he remained aloof and elusive (9:11–13). Job concluded that there was no hope of a fair trial, for God was far too powerful an adversary for him (9:14–20). Even though he knew he had done nothing wrong, God appeared determined to condemn him in court, and what hope could he have against God?

All of this leads Job to a terrible conclusion: Perhaps God was not so just, after all (9:21–24). “He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.” A judge guilty of such injustice would be disbarred. Perhaps it was time for God to step aside as Judge of all the earth! As much as he wished that God would always do right, he could not see how this was so. He knew that it was wrong to accuse God of injustice but could reach no other conclusion.

Job now suggested that there was no hope of a right standing before a God determined to bring such unjust calamity on him. Pursuing righteousness was hopeless, yet he still longed to be right with God. He knew that his life was swiftly coming to an end (9:25–26) and desperately wondered how he could be right with God before that happened. As he saw things, three possible options lay before him.

First, he could simply ignore his suffering, cheer up, and move on with life (9:27–29). Second, he could try to purify himself, labouring to make himself white as snow (9:30–31). But he sensed that self-purification was hopeless because God would simply condemn him again. His third option was to find a mediator—one who would argue on his behalf to God (9:32–35). He knew far less than we do of the one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:15) but he believed that the right mediator could secure his right standing before God.

In chapter 10, he turns to God with a series of heart-wrenching “why” questions: Why do you oppose me (10:1–3)? Why do you watch me (10:4–7)? Why did you create me (10:8–17)? Why will you not kill me (10:18–22)?

It is tough to hear Job, “a man of complete integrity” (1:1), reach such seemingly irreverent conclusions. But it becomes even more perplexing when, later on, God rebukes Job’s friends for not speaking rightly about him as Job had done (42:7). In what sense did Job speak “right” about God when he accused him of injustice? I think the point is that, even though his words were wrong, his heart was right. Job’s friends were interested only in proving that they were right and he was wrong. Job was deeply interested in trying to understand God’s heart and learning how to be right with him. Both made some ill-informed conclusions about God’s character and actions, but only Job did so from a sincere heart to know God.

As you meditate this morning on Job 9–10, ask God to give you the heart of Job. Ask him to help you to wrestle honestly with him with the goal to know him truly, even if it takes painfully long to realise that goal.